Smithsonian scientist Harrison Dyar spent 20 years digging hidden tunnels under Washington D.C.

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In 1924 a curious network of catacombs was discovered in Washington D.C. They were traced to Harrison Dyar, a Smithsonian entomologist who had been industriously digging tunnels in the city for almost two decades. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe Dyar's strange hobby -- and the equally bizarre affairs in his personal life.

We'll also revisit balloons in World War II and puzzle over a thief's change of heart.

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Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast covers The Great British Bake Off Series 7

Selasi Can Get it

This week, Boars, Gore, and Swords takes a break from the ASOIAF book club to watch the first two episodes of series seven of international baking sensation The Great British Bake Off.  Ivan and Red discuss the art of sitting on cakes, how amazing Mel and Sue's innuendos are, and who they think will go all the way. For more GBBO coverage, head over to the BGaS Patreon for more donor-exclusive episodes.

To catch up on previous television seasons, the A Song of Ice And Fire books, and other TV and movies, check out the BGaS archive. You can find them on Twitter @boarsgoreswords, like their Facebook fanpage, and email them. If you want access to extra episodes and content, you can donate to the Patreon. Read the rest

The bear who fought in World War II

wojtek 1 for boing boing

During World War II a Polish transport company picked up an unusual mascot: a Syrian brown bear that grew to 500 pounds and traveled with his human friends through the Middle East and Europe. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll meet Wojtek, the "happy warrior," and follow his adventures during and after the war.

We'll also catch up with a Russian recluse and puzzle over a murderous daughter.

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What do we mean when we talk about home?

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HOME: Stories From L.A., a member of the Boing Boing Podcast Network, is on a brief hiatus, and returns for its fourth season in October. If you haven't heard the show yet, this might be a good time to catch up with an episode from the archive -- like "The House On The Hill," about a forgotten figure from the Golden Age of Hollywood; or "A Home, A Murder, A Mystery (or two)," about a house that saw a horrific murder in 1959 and then sat empty and silent for more than 50 years; or "Rose, Mercedes and The Days Of The Dead," about what an L.A. actress did to encourage the troublesome spirit of her late grandmother to vacate the house they once shared. (Hint: It involved sage. And hammers.)

HOME looks at home in the broadest sense -- as a place, a feeling, an aspiration, a dream. Do you have a story about home that takes place in Southern California? If so, I'd love to hear from you. Drop me a note. Tell me a story. And maybe you can have a hand in helping me figure out: What do we mean when we talk about home?  Read the rest

Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast's ASOIAF book club - FeastDance #7: "The Fault of Our Complexion"

Yara/Asha

Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast's ASOIAF book club - FeastDance #7: "The Fault of Our Complexion" The Boars, Gore, and Swords book club reading of the Boiled Leather chapter order combining George R.R. Martin's A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons continues with this week's "The Fault of Our Complexion." Ivan and Red covered Sansa I (AFFC) in a previous book club episode, and move on to The Kraken’s Daughter (AFFC), and Tyrion III (ADWD). They discuss their further dislike of book Tyrion, various titular line drops, and Asha/Yara Greyjoy's thirsty suitor. For their Patreon donors, they've also begun their Great British Bake Off coverage, so kick in a dollar if you like talking about cakes.

To catch up on previous television seasons, the A Song of Ice And Fire books, and other TV and movies, check out the BGaS archive. You can find them on Twitter @boarsgoreswords, like their Facebook fanpage, andemail them. If you want access to extra episodes and content, you can donate to the Patreon. Read the rest

During the siege of Leningrad, nine botanists starved to death protecting a storehouse of edible crops

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During the siege of Leningrad in World War II, a heroic group of Russian botanists fought cold, hunger, and German attacks to keep alive a storehouse of crops that held the future of Soviet agriculture. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of the Vavilov Institute, whose scientists literally starved to death protecting tons of treasured food.

We'll also follow a wayward sailor and puzzle over how to improve the safety of tanks.

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In 1879 a London maid dismembered her employer and then assumed her identity

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In 1879, a ghastly crime gripped England: A London maid had dismembered her employer and then assumed her identity for two weeks, wearing her clothes and jewelry and selling her belongings.

In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe the murder of Julia Thomas and its surprising modern postscript.

We'll also discover the unlikely origins of a Mary Poppins character and puzzle over a penguin in a canoe.

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This Podcast Was Written by an AI

Today we do something weird, in honor of the end of the second season of Flash Forward! Instead of coming up with a future and then finding experts to talk about it, I asked an AI to write a future for us. And the AI apparently wants us to talk about space travel, witches, and the occult.

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In this episode we feed all the past Flash Forward episodes to a neural network, and ask it to write a script for us. And that script is full of space travel, Mars conspiracy theories, future witches, and a whole lot of theories about cutting someone’s hands off.

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Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast's A Song of Ice and Fire book club forges onwards

Illyrio

The Boars, Gore, and Swords book club continues with the Boiled Leather chapter order combining George R.R. Martin's A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. On this week's "30 Stone All Day," Ivan and Red cover Brienne I (AFFC), Jon I (ADWD), Bran I (ADWD), and Tyrion II (ADWD). The boys went into Brienne I and Bran I on previous book club episodes, so follow the links for those eps. 

To catch up on previous television seasons, the A Song of Ice And Fire books, and other TV and movies, check out the BGaS archive. You can find them on Twitter @boarsgoreswords, like their Facebook fanpage, and email them. If you want access to extra episodes and content, you can donate to the Patreon. Read the rest

Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast's ASOIAF book club - FeastDance #6: "Cersei Responds Appropriately"

Cersei and Tommen

The Boars, Gore, and Swords book club reading of the Boiled Leather chapter order combining George R.R. Martin's A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons continues with this week's "Cersei Responds Appropriately." Ivan and Red cover Cersei II (AFFC), Jaime I (AFFC), and as covered in a previous episode, Brienne II (AFFC). They discuss Rhaegar Targaryen's late stage decision making, Highgarden and the Tyrells' possible conspiring, and the many suspect Lannister family dynamics.

To catch up on previous television seasons, the A Song of Ice And Fire books, and other TV and movies, check out the BGaS archive. You can find them on Twitter @boarsgoreswords, like their Facebook fanpage, and email them. If you want access to extra episodes and content, you can donate to the Patreon. Read the rest

What happens when you bring a kid from the other side of the world into your home forever?

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This week on HOME: Stories From L.A.:

What happens when you bring a kid from the other side of the world into your home forever? How does it change what home means to her? And to you? This week it's the story of one mom, the daughter she chose, and the way they keep Ethiopia alive in the home that's now theirs.

PROGRAM NOTE: This is the last episode of Season 3. HOME, a member of the Boing Boing Podcast Network, returns in October for Season 4. Subscribe to the newsletter for updates and between-seasons bonus content. 

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In 1936 a Russian family retreated into the Siberian forest, where they lived in complete isolation for 42 years.

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In 1978 a team of geologists discovered a family of five living deep in the Siberian forest, 150 miles from the nearest village. Fearing persecution, they had lived entirely on their own since 1936, praying, tending a meager garden, and suffering through winter temperatures of 40 below zero. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll meet the Lykov family, whose religious beliefs committed them to "the greatest solitude on the earth."

We'll also learn about Esperanto's role in a Spanish prison break and puzzle over a self-incriminating murderer.

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How Allied prisoners used a Ouija board to escape a Turkish prison camp in World War I

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In 1917 a pair of Allied officers combined a homemade Ouija board, audacity, and imagination to hoax their way out of a remote prison camp in the mountains of Turkey. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe the remarkable escape of Harry Jones and Cedric Hill, which one observer called “the most colossal fake of modern times.”

We'll also consider a cactus' role in World War II and puzzle over a cigar-smoking butler.

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Oklahoma outlaw Elmer McCurdy had a career that lasted 100 years -- two-thirds of it as a corpse.

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In 1976 a television crew discovered a mummified corpse in a California funhouse. Unbelievably, an investigation revealed that it belonged to an Oklahoma outlaw who had been shot by sheriff's deputies in 1911 and whose remains had been traveling the country ever since. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll trace the postmortem odyssey of Elmer McCurdy, "the bandit who wouldn't give up."

We'll also reflect on a Dutch artist's disappearance and puzzle over some mysterious hospital deaths.

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Dancers in the house

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This week on HOME: Stories From L.A.

A roving. shifting company of dance and performance artists is nudging its audiences to think about home differently -- by bringing one-off, site-specific performances to houses, live-work spaces and tiny apartments all over the Los Angeles area. Meet homeLA.

HOME is a member of the Boing Boing Podcast Network. If you like what you hear, please rate/review the show on iTunes. NEW: Subscribe to the newsletter.

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Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast's ASOIAF book club - FeastDance #5

Janos Slynt over a barrel

The Boars, Gore, and Swords book club reading of the Boiled Leather chapter order combining George R.R. Martin's A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons continues onwards. On this week's "Mugs, Thermoses, and Tea Cups," Ivan and Red cover Samwell I (AFFC 6), Jon II (ADWD 8), and Arya I (AFFC 7). They discuss Sam Tarly's manga collection, the Watch's method of handling managerial disputes, and the best Arya scene to not make the show.

To catch up on previous television seasons, the A Song of Ice And Fire books, and other TV and movies, check out the BGaS archive. You can find them on Twitter @boarsgoreswords, like their Facebook fanpage, and email them. If you want access to extra episodes and content, you can donate to the Patreon. Read the rest

What Would Happen if We Stopped Eating Meat?

meats

Today we go to a future where animal products are banned. It’s one that lots of listeners have asked for so here you go. We talk about what happens to the land, the animals and the humans in this equation.

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In this episode we discuss the arguments in favor and against banning meat. How does that impact culture? Why should we do it? Does it help or hurt the environment? Can you really grow meat in a lab? And is that meat vegan?

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